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Mets notebook: Brandon Nimmo still not back in starting lineup, Jeff McNeil returns

Brandon Nimmo was held out of the Mets’ starting lineup for the third straight day on Monday.

Nimmo (wrist sprain) has not played in any capacity since Friday, including pinch hitting or late-inning defensive substitutions, but has been available off the bench.

“Brandon is doing some work in the cage,” Buck Showalter said before their series opener with the Nationals at Citi Field. Nimmo was also on the field during warmups on Monday testing things out.

Meanwhile, Jeff McNeil — who was kept out of Sunday’s starting nine because of “wear and tear” on his legs, according to the Mets manager — was back in the lineup on Monday as a designated hitter. He was the only Met to go hit-less, taking an 0-for-5 night with a strikeout.

There hasn’t been much more clarity on what McNeil’s dealing with since he was pulled from the seventh inning of Saturday’s game, but with the Mets already nursing a comfortable lead in the division, the team has the luxury of caution on their side.

“McNeil feels good,” Showalter assured. “He has, in the past, pushed through some things and paid the price with it. I think knowing the signs of something and deciding to back off of it, I think that’s what’s going on. He understands his body and his legs.”

After the game, Showalter was able to give a little more insight into the situation.

“We checked everything out,” Showalter said, “did some other imaging just to be sure and rule everything out. We got the full go.”

Showalter’s time in Major League Baseball has taught him many lessons and wacky sayings — which Mets fans have adored this season — and given him experience with whole spectrum of situations. But when he’s not explaining things via some silly aphorism, Showalter is very serious about the game, especially when it comes to managing players’ workloads over a long season.

“If he tells you [something is wrong] you need to react,” Showalter said. “He just kind of said something to one of our trainers. I’ve learned through the years, if it’s important to players it better be important to you.”

AVOIDING IL

Drew Smith, a surprisingly important arm out of the Mets’ recently depleted bullpen, is fine.

The rubber-armed righty took a ball off his bare hand during Sunday’s game and had to be taken out. There is no break or fracture anywhere in his hand, and while he said the trainer popping his dislocated pinky back into place wasn’t very fun, everything else is holding up well.

“I think it’s just a pain tolerance thing now,” Smith offered. “We’ll let the swelling go down a little bit. There’s some bruising. But other than that, we escaped without anything too serious.”

He was ruled day-to-day on Sunday and echoed the same on Monday.

“As of right now, no” he said when asked if he was headed for the injured list. “They’re going to try to give me a day or two. But hopefully by [Tuesday] it should be good to go.”

JANK-OW!-SKI

The Mets will be without Travis Jankowski (hand fracture), their best pinch runner and defensive outfielder off the bench, for a little bit while the he recovers from the surgery he had last week to repair his hand. Jankowski held court in front of his locker on Monday, speaking about the fracture in the fourth metacarpal of his mangled left hand.

“Pretty surprised, pretty frustrated,” Jankowski said, then described the play in San Francisco that took him out. “Line drive, making a diving play, glove just kind of got stuck a little bit. I hyperextended my finger, didn’t think anything of it at the time. After the game it swelled up a little bit.”

The recovery time is one thing, but for a player like Jankowski, who occupies a spot on the bottom of the roster, there’s also the question of where he fits on the team upon returning. His estimated time to return is about five weeks, so it’s impossible to know what the Mets will look like at that time or how well his replacement might be playing, meaning Jankowski’s status on the 26-man roster will be up in the air.

“Two screws and five weeks, and I should be good to go,” Jankowski hoped. “Hopefully it’s back in the majors. We’ll have to see in three weeks how the bone’s healing and go from there.”

DIAZ’S USAGE

Edwin Diaz has done many things for the Mets this season.

The closer has thrown 20.2 innings — most of any Mets’ reliever besides Smith — and struck out 38 hitters. He’s notched 11 saves, including one that sealed the team’s combined no-hitter, and posted a 2.61 ERA. One thing he hasn’t done yet this season is record more than three outs in an appearance.

“There’s about 20 reasons [for that],” Showalter said. “You look into different stuff: rest, time of the year, where they’re at in the batting order, who else you have available, what their options are off the bench, is there inclement weather coming. There’s a lot of stuff going on.”

The last time Diaz went more than an inning was Aug. 19, 2021, when he pitched the ninth and tenth innings of a win over the Giants.

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